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Penguins Skate: Letang Game-Time Decision, Maatta on Ice



Kris Letang Pittsburgh Penguins trade talk
OTTAWA, ON - DECEMBER 08: Pittsburgh Penguins Defenceman Kris Letang (58) keeps his eyes on the play during first period National Hockey League action between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Ottawa Senators on December 8, 2018, at Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, ON, Canada. (Photo by Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire)

Both injured Pittsburgh Penguins defensemen Kris Letang and Olli Maatta were on the ice for the Penguins morning skate Tuesday, according to the team Twitter account.

For the first time since suffering an upper-body injury against the Philadelphia Flyers on Feb. 11, Maatta skated with the team. Maatta has been skating on his own with the Penguins skills coach Ty Hennes but joined the team for the morning skate, Tuesday morning in a non-contact jersey.

Maatta, 24, has been up and down this season. He has just one goal and 12 assists in 55 games, well short of his 29 points (7g, 22a) output, last season. He was injured when he went awkwardly into the boards and to the ice after being checked in the first period of the Penguins 4-1 win over Philadelphia on Feb. 11.

“He’s been skating with (Hennes) for a while now. He’s feeling good enough to join the team on the trip,” Sullivan said. “Obviously, he’s in a non-contact jersey but that’s encouraging.”

Maatta won’t play Tuesday night, but Letang might.

Despite being listed as day-to-day, fellow Penguins defenseman Kris Letang has missed nearly one month after also being injured against Philadelphia. He is a game-time-decision, Tuesday. Letang was hurt in the first period of the Stadium Series game on Feb. 23 when Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere took him to the ice in a small melee.

Letang has missed the last 11 games and was further set back by an illness last week. Letang has 53 points (15g, 38a) in 60 games this season. His name did pop up in some Norris Trophy discussion. Letang runs the Penguins top power-play unit and is the Penguins most offensively capable defenseman.

“Our D has done a terrific job, but he’s an impact player. He’s an elite player,” Sullivan said. ‘He plays in so many situations for us. I think we’re certainly a better team when he’s in the lineup.”

Letang has been close but was ruled out before the weekend games.

“I’ve been feeling pretty good. It’s just a question of putting it all together,” Letang said. “It was really hard because the calendar doesn’t allow me to practice with the team. The last week has been a good week for me.”

According to the team Twitter account, Letang skated beside his frequent defense partner Brian Dumoulin and Zach Trotman was the odd-man out. Trotman skated with Juuso Riikola as the extra defensemen.

The other defensive pairings were unchanged. Jack Johnson skated with Justin Schultz and Marcus Pettersson beside Erik Gudbranson.